Xenophon Kynett, 625 Bluff

This very early brick house, built in 1862, was the home of Xenophon W. Kynett, a druggist. He was born in 1827 at Weathersfield, Trumbull County, Ohio, one of eight children of Jacob and Annie Kynett. According to his obituary, ”His grandfather was a native of Alsace, on the border of France and Austria, and after coming to this country and living fifteen years in Adams County, Pennsylvania, removed to Trumbull County, Ohio.

“Mr. Kynett attended district school, reading law and medicine in the mornings and evenings, and in 1848 was admitted to the bar in Portage County, Ohio, going there to expedite admittance, and practiced law in Canalsdover, Ohio.”

He came to Council Bluffs in 1854. His first assignment here was to be appointed receiver of the book store of Mawhinny & Putnam. He later purchased the store which was located on Broadway. The store prospered and, after eight years, he sold his interest to his partner, H.H. Oberholtzer.

His obituary states that Kynett “turned to the manufacture of patent medicines, of which he was the pioneer in this part of the country, making a specialty of one which a medical friend had successfully used in India, who, in turn, had gotten it from the Brahmins. Kynett claimed they had used it among them for 2,500,000 years.”

Xenophon Kynett wore many hats. His obituary continues: “In 1856, he formed a law and real estate partnership with D.C. Bloomer, which continued for several years. In the same year when this city was a rendezvous for French fur traders bound for the northwest, there being here quite a French colony, he was appointed a French consul by Louis Napoleon of France, and served for three years when the needs of such an office were ended.”

Also in 1856, he was elected justice of the peace and served four years. He was admitted to the bar in 1857 in this county but did not practice law. He moved to St. Louis in 1878 where he spent five years in the drug business. While there he was offered the chair of chemistry in a college of medicine, but decided to go on the road with his medicines, traveling over Kansas, Missouri and Iowa, and returned to Council Bluffs in 1888.

Kynett Medicine Co. advertisements, found in newspapers and city directories, claim he was a dealer in drugs, medicines, school books, stationery, toys, fancy goods, glassware, and shop furniture… and “will compose in a careful and scientific manner, physicians’ prescriptions and family recipes”.

In 1877, Xenophon Kynett married Cordelia Susan Bayes who was born in Missouri in 1854. The couple had four sons – Xenophon W., Leslie, Donald, and Leo. Mr. Kynett died in 1904, Cordelia in 1931. The Kynetts are buried in Fairview Cemetery.

The brick house, now painted, features three steep gabled wall dormers across the front with Gothic windows in each and a Gothic hood over the centered front door. Two corbelled brick chimneys are original. The house originally had a full-width front porch which can be seen in the 1868 panorama illustration of Council Bluffs. The nomination of the Willow/Bluff/Third Street district to the National Register of Historic Places calls it a “rare triple-gabled dormer example of a Gothic Revival cottage; very important architecturally in the district”.

– Preserve Council Bluffs acknowledges the following sources of information for this series: National Register of Historic Places nominations, the reference department of the Council Bluffs Public Library, the auditor’s office of the Pottawattamie County courthouse, Council Bluffs Community Development Department, homeowners, family members and individual research.

Mary Lou McGinn can be reached by email at mlmcginn@cox.net.

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